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April 17, 2016
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Dear Families,

Tomorrow starts Teacher Appreciation week. In honor of this, I’m sharing a blog post I wrote in 2013 back about being a great teacher, which still holds true today.
 

On being a great teacher

Blue School prospective parents sometimes ask me what qualifications I look for in a teacher, or where our teachers come from. I usually stop and have to think, because the qualifications for me of a masterful teacher are truly a set of personal and intellectual qualities demonstrated over time more than a list of itemized skills. And while checklists, rubrics, and multiple lists of attributes that define great teaching and skilled teachers certainly exist, I think we have lost the forest for the trees in a profession that lies so stubbornly on that sparkling line between art and science. For me, and at Blue School, a masterful teacher is a person of intellect, who is engaged and excited by the prospect of understanding a child's mind, personhood, and individual nature a little bit better every day. She has chosen this vocation not to be loved by her students, but to appreciate and understand who they are and the mystery and wonder that they bring each day. A masterful teacher has fun with children and holds them in the highest regard (and thus to the highest standards), looks them in the eyes, laughs at their jokes, smiles when they succeed, and helps them get up when they fail.

A masterful teacher has a vision for the classroom that is both responsive to the children he teaches but also unwavering in his attention to what they need to learn at all developmental stages. She knows that freedom of thought comes within structure and parameters. He cherry-picks the best from great educational programs and current ideas, and makes them his own. She is inviting to families and values their partnership, and works to ensure that each child is seen and known from all sides. He is a reader of books and a person with ideas about the world.

A masterful teacher is a team player, and knows that her practice is as much about building the school as it is about her classroom. She is courageous enough to take and incorporate feedback from colleagues, and creative enough to take the suggestions farther than the giver ever intended. He is a collaborator through thick and thin, knowing the work of nurturing good citizens and people requires hearing one another out, healthy disagreement, and patience, as well as the thrill that comes with an idea better played out by two rather than one. She is exceedingly humble and curious about our work, knowing that the more she learns, the more questions she will have.

This is a tall order, and it is no wonder that as the national conversation about education narrows, so many of these brilliant and expansive thinkers are leaving the classroom. I see it as my responsibility to create a culture where people like this can learn, grow, take risks and thrive, just as we want them to do for our children.
 



I also want to share with you this little series of photographs taken by Kay Bermudez, which I think perfectly encapsulates the wonder and amazement possible and inherent in a teacher’s day at school, as well as the deep and abiding attention teaching requires.

"Surprise yourself with magic and wonder"

I did this series of photos of our kids after I saw one of our kids faces inside a water bead while he was holding it. I asked "Finn, what do you see?" Finn said "I see ME!!!!", I asked "where?!" Finn replied "Inside the water bead!!! So cool!!!!"


   Images by Kay Bermudez 


If you have any time this week, please send an email to your teachers to share a noticing, appreciation or celebration to them. And thank you to the Families Association for the amazing breakfast that will be in our Faculty Lounge every day this week!

Hope you had a wonderful and restful break - Allison


News & Weekly Recap


 

Blue Note: Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
6 - 8 pm, $25


There's still a few seats left for this not to miss Blue Note talk!  

From the introduction to her most recent book
“This insight - that we only think deeply about things we care about - has important implications for education and pedagogy…It suggests that for school-based learning to have a hope of motivating students, of producing deep understanding, or of transferring into real-world skills -- all hallmarks of meaningful learning, and all essential to producing informed, skilled, ethical and reflective adults - we need to find ways to leverage the emotional aspects of learning in education.”

Please join us for a Blue Note talk by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang titled "Rest is not idleness in the brain: Insights for educators from neuroscientific research on social emotion and self".  Mary Helen Immordino-Yang will present her research on the neurobiology and psychology of emotional feelings, including their deep visceral roots in the feeling and regulation of the body and consciousness, their propensity to heighten one’s own subjective sense of self-awareness and purpose, and their connections to memory, cultural learning and the development of interests and expertise. Her studies underscore the fundamental interdependence of emotion and cognition, and the necessity of understanding students’ humanity to optimally support their academic excellence.
Lice Check

We will do our post-Spring Break lice checks beginning on May 3rd.

Volunteers Needed for Service Day
Thursday, May 5th

Blue School's third Service Day is coming up for 4s through 6th grade and we need parent volunteers to help with student projects. Please get in touch with Carrie Vaughn (carriev@blueschool.org) and your student's classroom teachers if you are able to help for any or all of the day. Stay tuned for an email from your class parent with more specifics about projects and schedules.

Dirty Waltz Band
Jalopy Theater, Brooklyn 
Friday, May 6th at 8PM

Blue School performers will be in full effect as Val Killen (3c Lead Teacher) takes the stage with Mollie McQuarrie (Preprimary Materials/Studio Specialist and middle school mom) and Blue School parent Mike Shapiro Friday, May 6. Jalopy Theatre: 315 Columbia St., Brooklyn, NY. Tickets here.

Come get your spring-y waltz on! 
 

Early Childhood Talk with Wanda
Thursday, May 12
9-10am, 5th floor music room

Topic: Handling transitions and change at the end of the school year.

Change can be hard for ALL of us, and particularly challenging for preschoolers. As we approach the end of the school year, how do we support children as they move from the structure of school to the more open-ended days of summer, and eventually to the start of the new school year? How can we help them understand their feelings about saying goodbye to their teachers and friends and moving on to new experiences? What behaviors can we expect during this time of change and how can we make the transitions as smooth as possible?

Join us with your questions and concerns as we explore these questions and discuss the ways in which guiding children sensitively through this time can influence how they may handle other changes in their future.

Battle Cry Performance

Here are some pictures of our 4th and 5th graders performing in front of Bowne Printers on the day before break.  Enjoy! 


Feeling Blue Performance at NYU

Check out a few photos and a video of our clown jam at NYU's international Forum on Educational Theatre this morning. More to come!

Tribeca Family Street Festival

Dawn and the team had a great and successful day meeting families, talking about Blue School and building lego structures with kids at the Tribeca Family Street Festival last weekend - which included an ECTO-1 drive-by!  Here are some images.



 

The Enormous Mustache
May 26 and 27, 2016

When an enormous mustache begins to take over the world, will any amount of French philosophy be able to save our hapless heroines and heroes? Join us for excerpts from Alain Badiou's 'Ahmed the Philosopher' within this child-created performance complete with dances, songs, and dialogues.

Ticket's on sale here!

Family Hub Section of the blueschool.org:

We are beta-launching a password protected section of the website. This section will house photo galleries, an online bulletin board, and our newsletter archive. To access this page, please visit www.blueschool.org/familyhub or www.blueschool.org, then “Vibrant Community” to find “Family Hub.” The password is 241!Water -- you only have to put the password in once. If you are interested in adding to the bulletin board or photo galleries, please email advancement@blueschool.org -- thank you in in advance.

We are looking for a way to notify you when changes to the webpage have been made. For now, we will list updates here: Information about editorial style photography for families have been added to the Bulletin Board.



Upcoming Events




Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Tues. 5/3
6 pm

Lice Check
Tues. 5/3

Service Day
Thurs. 5/5


Early Childhood Talk with Wanda
Thurs. 5/12

9 am

The Enormous Mustache
May 26 and 27
Blogs around Blue School

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